97 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Expansive and detailed history of the Prussian Empire,
Rich in detail, Christopher Clark's new book Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia 1600-1947, is a welcome addition to the multitude of histories covering central Europe. Clark brings to life an era of Prussian history that is little known aside from the 19th and 20th century Kaisers and this expansive history is a fine piece of research.
Published on 11 Dec 2006 by A. G. Corwin
41 of 48 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much talk not enough action...
They say never trust a book by its cover and this book is a great case in point. The paperback oozes the military confidence and strangely warlike nature of Prussia. This promised to be a book that in equal measure dazzles you with military prowess and then the cultural achievements of Prussia all to end in the inferno of World War 2...but then you actually start reading...
Published on 11 Mar 2008 by J. Duducu
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36 of 49 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Misses the Point,
There is one overwhelming question a history of Prussia must answer: how did they accomplish so much with so little? In 1600 the Hohenzollern territories of Brandenburg and Prussia were poor scraps of sand on the north German plain, with no large cities, no industries, no natural resources, no natural frontiers, poor soil, short growing seasons, and surrounded by enemies -- and from this grew a state that became too big for theEuropean balance of power and had to be defeated by the combined might of the US, USSR, and British Empire. How did they do it?
Instead of answering this question, Clark brngs up all the reasons why it should not have happened. He does not seem very nterested n military history, which is fatal for a history of Prussia, so closely related were the state and army.
The early sections were quite interesting, explaining a lot of the early dynastic history of the Hohenzollerns that other histories skip over, but by the 19th century it is clear he is more interested in German nationalism than in the Prussian state. I have to admit in the end I lost interest and did not finish the book.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive and thorough,
Christopher Clark's history of Prussia is, to say the least, comprehensive. It's also interesting, covering as it does the whole period from 1600 until the end of World War II. Occasionally, it gets a little dry, but most of the time it is a well written portrayal of not just the royal court, but also of peasants, burgers, aristos, merchants and the emerging of the working class.
Although the book charts the rise and eventual fall of the Hohenzollern dynasty, it does so within the framework of the geopolitics of a state that was peculiarly vulnerable to attack for most of its existence. It also traces the two influences that defined the Prussian state - militarism and a progressive and enlightened liberalism.
Fascinating, and fundamental to understanding the 20th Century history of Europe.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars,
I AM GETTING TO READ THEM AFTER MY SON. VERY INTERESTING
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good history.,
I choose books carefully, as far as possible. I'm glad I chose this. The positive reviews are right. A good general history of Brandenburg-Prussia and Prussia as part of larger, later, polities.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars To whom it may concern,
This review is from: Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947 (Kindle Edition)
It is not at all clear who Christopher Clark thinks he is addressing.
He is obviously knowledgeable, and his research thorough, but there are great failings in how he communicates. I agree with other reviewers who use the words "cultural" and "sociological" to describe the book, which point to two failings.
One is that he does not adequately address or explain the events or the people whose actions influenced or determined them. He is instead more interested in the processes which the events exemplify.
The second is that he is poor at describing these people as people. There are a few brief summaries of the main actors, but they fail to give any particular sense of them as individuals. This failing I suspect follows from what seems to me to be his main interest in the sociology, the processes he sees being enacted, to the exclusion of an interest in the people whose actions had effects. (I could make a similar analysis of his book on the origins of the first World War.)
There is also a further great difficulty, which is his writing style. He must surely be aware of Orwell's rules for clear writing, in "Politics and English Language", but there is almost a perversity in the way he breaks at least three of them. Never use a long word when a short one will do, if it is possible to cut a word out then do so, never us a foreign phrase, scientific word or a jargon word when there is an everyday English equivalent. He writes as though he is demonstrating his academic credentials to other academics, but his language obfuscates what could and should have been a far more acute analysis of a major strand in relatively recent European history..
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping,
Extremely well written history of Prussia.
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars,
Very good. Sometimes too academic
9 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A good book - but not popular history,
This is a well-researched book covering a fascinating period, but shouldn't be described as popular history. Many sections - indeed entire chapters - have little interest for the general reader. This is a shame, as the good parts are excellent. If you are tempted, be aware that you have 688 pages of compact type to negotiate!
7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb history of Prussia.,
This review is from: Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia 1600-1947 (Hardcover)
I would recommend this book to any intelligent reader interested in the history of Germany and Central Europe. Clark avoids academic jargon, and writes an exciting and compelling analytical narrative. He also, thank God, avoids the current fashion (see Sebag-Montefiore) for including endless, lengthy 'eye-witness' accounts.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good,
This review is from: Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947 (Hardcover)
Iron Kingdom by Christopher Clark is a good book which deals with the emergence as a major European power of Prussia through to its eventual erradication. The book itself is well written and informative but it is not quite what you would expect from a book on this subject. Although the early years of the emergence of Brandenberg- Prussia are dealt with in detail (mainly concerning the military exploits) after a certain point the book becomes more of a social history rather than anything else and in the end skims over the Great War and the fall of the ruling dynasty. However, having said that the book is informative and does explain why Prussia ended up as the state it was (although not so much how this occured) and that many of the pre-conceptions and myths about Prussia and Prussians are not actually based in reality but are a distorted view of the evidence.
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Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947 by Christopher Clark